For six weeks the Decatur High School Robotics Team, the Beach Bots, built a robot as part of the Chesapeake Regional Robotics competition which culminated in Baltimore two weeks ago.
The teams came from as far away as California, and they were part of the First Robotics series which boasts sponsors such as SIAC, BAE Systems, JC Penney, Army ROTC, Johns Hopkins University Robotics Lab, Northrop Grumman, NASA, MIT et al.
With such an impressive list of sponsors, the students ultimately are rewarded, should they so choose to apply, with college scholarship opportunities. With only 25 percent of the students applying for scholarships, the group still awarded out $12 million in scholarship funds last year.
At the competition, The Beach Bots came in first place for all of the rookie teams and fared well against many of the veteran teams. It was an impressive showing and noting the small size of the Decatur team versus some of the massive teams, it was all the more impressive.
But as inspiring as everything was, the team made it to the competition by its shoestrings. Being a new club, the robotics team did not warrant much funding from local sources so after the robot kit was purchased, the mentors found themselves footing the bill on many items.
As the spokesman for Northrop Grumman noted in his speech in the opening ceremony, “Something on this floor will be on the next Stryker Missile System. Something that you [the students] have thought of will be on a jumbo jet some day, as professional engineers haven’t thought of it yet. That’s why we are such big supporters of First Robotics.”
And that is why it is so important that we as a community support the robotics team in Worcester County. What the students learn will give them a practical and useful knowledge bank that will prove invaluable over time, and will only improve their chances in a future of engineering.
Getting there is step-one and a daunting step at that, and with times being what they are, it is important that the community help out however it can.
If you have any interest in helping or supporting the team, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get you in touch with the mentors.
As we are moving towards even more financially challenging times then we have already experienced, it is important that we as a community don’t ignore an academic club with such importance as the Decatur Robotics Team.
This is much more than one robot. This is technology in a technological world. It is science in an ever-scientific climate. It is learning in the most practical and rewarding of ways. And it is within the children’s’ grasps.
We just need to help them get there.